Monthly Archives: August 2012




Being an eternal optimist I am going to use the very specific term of ‘pushcart ‘in my initial searches as I know there is a lot of curriculum based material on the internet about this. I am also going to begin with a very simple search string of “inquiry-learning” AND “primary” AND “pushcart”. The purpose of this is as a fishing exercise just to see what’s out there before I broaden my searches.

Not nearly as many results as I was expecting. My Blog is listed as the second and third result. Now, I know there is not much information there (!) but the specific search terms I used appear several times in it. The top result is a PDF of school newsletter.

Google kept predicting inquiry-BASED learning so I repeat the same search using this term instead. Nothing with the use of inverted commas, so why was it telling me to try that term? Some results yielded without inverted commas where the words were picked up individually rather than as I had grouped them.

Google also prompted “push cart” as two separate words so I also tried that yielding different results. There were six bookshops in the top ten and the top two were PDF dissertations where push cart was mentioned in the text but was completely irrelevant to my context.

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 5 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

I had never come across the above statement before and when I clicked on it the other results were the same original articles listed at different web addresses.


  • The majority of hits were PDFs from schools around Aust who have done the Kids Design Challenge and written about it in their newsletters
  • There were curriculum overviews from various states that I thought may be useful to check for inquiry-learning links.
  • There were some PDFs of whole journals and conference papers and proceedings; I had to scroll through lots of pages to find the relevant section only to reject each as a useful source.
  • Pushcarts are also known as trolleys in the US and the term is also used to describe the push along market stalls in the UK.


SO, onto my new best friend Google Scholar, still using the very specific search terms.


  • Nothing relevant here, the search term “pushcart” although resulting in two hits is too specific, both results are for pushcart vendors
  • Primary is interpreted as ‘primary source’.


Again I go with the specific terms and limit results to full text and post 2000.


EUREKA! One result yielded and it is the perfect article, How can teacher librarians support technology learning?...AND there is a section on pushcarts.




Planning my Search Process.

At this stage of the process I am feeling very excited to finally begin and get to see what’s out there on my information-learning activity (ILA) area. I have brainstormed possible synonyms for my main search terms and considered how I will string these together. Given that there is a lot of information on the net about my ILA I am going to try my luck with very specific terms relating to pushcarts. (See below)

If this very specific approach does not yield sufficient results I will then do a much more general subject heading search, trying mainly in science and design areas. (See below)


WEEK 2. The information learning activity (ILA).


I am currently working as a casual teacher so I will be observing another teacher implement the ILA. The teacher is both the teacher-librarian and science specialist at a small NSW primary school and for this project she is working with a combined 4/5/6 class of 20 students. They have decided to enter The Kids Design Challenge and design, build and race a pushcart.

The teacher has this class one full day each week (as part of RFF arrangements) and the project will most likely run for 15weeks. I became aware of the project when I was on the class as a casual teacher and I was very interested in the complex topics they were researching for an upper primary level class.


Learning outcomes for the ILA:

The Kids’ Design Challenge (KDC) is the initiative of Technology in Primary Schools (TiPS) network, and the blurb from the website describes the project as “supporting students to work collaboratively as they research needs and issues and devise design ideas and solutions.”

The KDC addresses learning outcomes in Science & Technology at Stage 3:

  • Investigating (Inv 3.7), Design and making (DM 3.8) and Using technology (UT3.9)
  • Physical Phenomena (PP3.4) and Products and service (PS3.5)

The aim is to promote and use design and technological know-how as a means of solving problems related to our world. Designing and making is well integrated with investigating as students explore and clarify ideas and solutions.

  • The challenge involves students in investigating a topical problem or issue and generating real-life solutions.
  • Classes submit their final proposals to the project to receive feedback from industry practitioners and expert teachers.
  • Outstanding achievements of students are celebrated and showcased on the Kids’ Design Challenge web site and at the celebration event for each Challenge.
  • Online communications are used to bring students in touch with each other and with the wider community, providing access to expert advice  from industry professionals.
  • Online support is also available for teachers in implementing activities with their classes. Requirements for design solutions are clearly set out for teachers.”

In addition, the Challenge will provide strong links with the Stage 3 Key Learning Areas of:

  • English: talking & listening, reading and writing factual texts
  • Mathematics: especially in number, measurement and space
  • PDHPE: especially related to nutrition, fitness and endurance, road safety, personal safety, sun safety, social skills, teamwork.

More information about the KDC can be found on the separate blog page “Pushcart Challenge”.

ILA Design:

The KDC has been extensively designed so that teachers can decide to do the project and pick it up and run with it straight away. There is extensive support material available for each stage of the project and it is set out in a series of steps that follow the example below.

STEP 1: Engaging Students – Getting Started

  • Introduce the KDC-NRMA TechnoPush Challenge Scenario and the Design brief
  • Highlight the major features and requirements
  • Build the context – explore leisure activities over time and in different cultures
  • Focus on pushcarts: identify what we already know and what we need to find out
  • Introduce and display the KDC-NRMA TechnoPush Challenge Designspecifications
  • Develop the class/group criteria for success.

Reflection questions:


  • What is the purpose of the task?
  • What do we need to do to achieve our goal?
  • How did we establish the design criteria for the pushcart?
  • What did we learn?


  • Could students clarify the task?
  • Do they understand the purpose of the task?
  • Do students understand the requirements of the challenge?
By the end of STEP 1 students will have established criteria and requirements for their design of the pushcart.

STEP 2: Investigating phase – Investigating to inform design

STEP 3: The Design Phase – Generating, refining and selecting ideas for the class pushcart

STEP 4: Producing the pushcart and preparing for the Challenge event

STEP 5: Evaluating Phase: evaluating and celebrating design achievements

STEP 6: Showcase your class’ achievements!

Most of my observations for the ILA will occur during steps 4 through to 6.




Task 1:

Searching Google and Google scholar for, -saving black mountain-, with and without inverted commas made an enormous difference. Well that’s an understatement. It was an amazing, gobsmacking difference!!


My initial search without inverted commas yielded 19,700, 000 results whilst using inverted commas yielded 7,270 results. SO, this is a useful filtering system to cut down on the numbers BUT does anyone even look as far as the first 100 results. So what about the quality of the results?

 In the top ten results:-

  • the first two were exactly the same and there were a total of four the same in both searches
  • There was an ad at the top of the page when not using inverted commas and 6 results for Black Mountain Savings Bank. So not using inverted commas allows Google to search for any combination of the key words.
  • Using the inverted commas kept the words strictly in the typed order. Interestingly there were 5 results that related to critical literacy making it more relevant to the requirements of CLN650 and there were two past student blogs for this project that showed up.
  • SO… if I knew exactly what I was looking for I would definitely use inverted commas and leave them off if I was just doing a random or ‘fishing’ search.


I already had Google Scholar set to National library Australia and now I also set it reveal QUT holdings and refined some other areas in scholar preferences to suit my particular search purposes.

My initial search without inverted commas yielded 194,000 results whilst using inverted commas yielded 36 results. WOW are you kidding me, now even I could manage to scroll my way through 36 results without too much trouble. So…. the quality of the results?

 In the top ten results:-

  • the first one was exactly the same and there were a total of three the same in both searches
  • Again not using inverted commas allows Google to search for any combination of the key words which allows for some interesting results such as ‘Black-footed ferrets’ and ‘the souls of black folk’.
  • Using the inverted commas kept the words strictly in the typed order. I had used the settings to also include citations so articles with both the heading and citations showed up. INTERESTINGLY the other 9 results on the page cited the first article so some skimming through would be needed to see if new information and interpretations could be gleaned from these.


  • Google accesses anything on the net whilst scholar provides access specifically to scholarly literature.

Google Scholar allows users to search for digital or physical copies of articles, whether online or in libraries.[6] It indexes “full-text journal articles, technical reports, preprints, theses, books, and other documents, including selected Web pages that are deemed to be ‘scholarly.'”[7].

  • Scholar also highlights whether the item is a [DOC], [PDF], [HTML], [BOOK], WHILST Google only highlights [PDF] and whether it is available as ‘full text’.
  • Scholar also gives you the option of advanced searches and allows you to sort by date.



*Please note that all images used in this blog are sourced from Creative Commons unless otherwise referenced


Reflective Questionnaire 1

  1. Take some time to think about inquiry learning and information literacy. Now write down what you know about it.

inquiry learning

  • I seem to recall  ‘learning by doing’ somehow equates with inquiry learning
  • Independant and guided learning take place, rather than recall and regurgitate                  
  • Is best when related to real life or life like activities

information literacy

  • A relatively newish term applied to the ability to recognise the need for information then being able to effectively source that information and utiilse it

(hmmm that’s all I’ve got for now….time to start some readings)

2. How interested are you in this topic?  ….quite a bit

3. How much do you know about this topic? ….. not much (well I probably know more than I think I do and hopefully my memory will be jolted into action once I start researching).

4. When you do research, what do you generally find easy to do?

  • Find general information
  • Interpret what is required from a task
  • Pull common threads together from diverse sources

5.  When you do research, what do you generally find difficult to do?

  • Find specific relevant information. Sometimes I can spend hours searching for something in particular so I am really looking forward to honing my research skills in this subject